UT pharmacy assistant professor says new overdose drug law will be ‘life-saving’

August 20, 2015 | News, UToday, Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences
By Brandi Barhite

A new state law giving easier access to the overdose reversal drug Naloxone will result in more lives saved, according to a University of Toledo pharmacy faculty member.

“It is definitely a proactive and positive move. This provides a new avenue to access a life-saving drug,” said Dr. Anthony Pattin, UT assistant professor of pharmacy practice. “With this new law, people can get Naloxone without having to get a doctor’s note or finding distribution centers, which are not widely available. This is potentially life-saving because people will have the antidote nearby in case of an overdose instead of waiting for an EMT to arrive and administer it.”

House Bill 4, signed into law by Gov. John Kasich last month, authorizes a pharmacist or pharmacy intern to dispense Naloxone without a prescription as long as counseling and written education is provided. Opioids can slow or stop a person’s breathing. Naloxone helps the person wake up and continue breathing.

This law comes as the number of opiate-related deaths from prescription drugs and heroin in Ohio continue to climb; since 2000, there has been a 366 percent increase, Pattin said, making it the leading cause of accidental deaths in the state.

This new law will allow for a family member or a friend to get a prescription for a loved one.

“People should always call 911 in conjunction with taking the antidote, but taking Naloxone as soon as an overdose is suspected is key for survival,” he said.

Despite concerns that making Naloxone more readily available will lead to more drug abuse, Pattin said pilot programs showed that did not occur. Also, Naloxone is safe if taken by someone who is not overdosing.

“This provides opportunities for pharmacists to offer a new service and show our value to health care,” Pattin said. “We have to provide counseling about opiate abuse when someone comes in for this antidote. They just don’t get it and leave.”

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